Basic D&D: On Archery

In D&D, has it ever bothered you that an archer's chance to hit a target at 200 yards is only minimally reduced from that at 10 yards? Or that lumbering giants can almost unerringly strike their tiny victims at enormous range? I'd like to make a single pointed argument here: the range modifiers for man-to-man combat in D&D are far too lenient.

Rules from Chainmail

Interestingly, in the Chainmail mass-combat rules, there are no range modifiers to hit whatsoever (CM, p. 11-12; although the traditional max ranges are immediately present on p. 10). In the man-to-man combat section, it is asserted that ranges should be split into increments of one-third (p. 25), and in the combat tables, these increments each make a difference of 1 pip to hit on 2d6 (p. 41). Simple, indeed -- however, I'll be forced to argue that the simplicity of 1-point per third-of-range was simply not thought through at all; in fact, it wildly misses the true difficulty of man-to-man archery fire at great range.

On D&D Range Modifiers

The 1-point per range increment rule is carried forward into the basic D&D rulesets. OD&D actually sets the "base" to-hit at long range, with increasing bonuses for closer distance ("Missile hits will be scored by using the above tables at long range and decreasing Armor Class by 1 at medium and 2 at short range"; Vol-1, p. 20). Gygax's Swords & Spells mass combat rules does the same (S&S, p. 24). The Moldvay/Mentzer line does appreciably the same (regular chances at medium; +1 at short, -1 at long; Rules Cyclopedia p. 108).

In the AD&D line we see an admission that these modifiers are too lenient; here, the rule is regular chances at short range, -2 at medium, and -5 at long (PHB p. 38; DMG p. 74-75). But still, I don't think these are severe enough.

On Issues of Range

First of all, let's consider an issue that is frequently overlooked: The difference between shooting at at a massed army, and shooting at a single man. The difference in the size of the target is obviously enormous; and so it's entirely possible that the former may be practically impossible to miss, while the latter may be nigh-impossible to hit, even at the same range. It's reasonable that longbows might be an effective instrument of war at 200 yards or so (against an army); while it's almost unimaginable to think that anyone could hit a given man-sized target (even stationary) at that range. So, it seems like quite an oversight in OD&D (i.e., Chainmail man-to-man rules) to switch blithely from one to the other, using the same range categories and the same chances to hit without major modification.

(Note: In Swords & Spells, Gygax did address this, with full damage only against large formations, reducing as the target unit's ranks decrease. When the "Target is single creature, about man-sized", then 90% of the normal damage is lost [p. 23]. However, no rule like this transfers into any form of D&D.)

Secondly, keep in mind that by the inverse-square law, if you double distance, the visible area of the target is reduced to just one-quarter what it was originally. For example: Say you're shooting at a man-sized target at 50 yards. Moving the target to 100 yards reduces the visible area to one-quarter. Again moving the target to 200 yards reduces the visible area to just one-sixteenth what it was originally.

On a Statistical Model of Shooting

Now, this doesn't necessarily mean that the chance to hit is reduced to exactly one-quarter and one-sixteenth in the circumstances above -- that would presume chance to hit is linear with distance -- but it should intuitively imply that hitting targets at very great ranges should be very, very difficult. What should we use as a model of shooting accuracy?

The standard statistical model would be to use a normal curve (previously developed here). For example, the article "Analysis of Small-Bore Shooting Scores" says, "... a calculation model based on the central circular bivariate normal distribution has been used to calculate the expected distribution of the the displacement of shots from the point of aim... ", and that this model was at least "partially successful" in predicting shooting competitor's scores. [A.H. Conway-Jones, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series C, Vol. 21, No 3, pp. 282-296] The term "bivariate normal distribution" basically means a normal-curve model in two dimensions (mostly simply, independent normal distributions for both the x- and y-axis of the target; see here for description and simulator applets).

Let's look for some real-world data. Way back in the day, Dragon magazine published on article on broadly the same topic, "Aiming for realism in archery: Longer ranges, truer targets" (Robert Barrow, Dragon #58, February 1982, p. 47-48). Barrow begins by compiling some interesting information about modern English archery tournaments:
English archers use a 48-inch-diameter target in tournament competition. Since a 48-inch target is about the same target area as a man’s body, these archers’ scores can be examined and compared for use in game terms. A compilation of the twelve highest tournament results during a one-year period shows that the "hit" percentages of England’s finest archers at three ranges were: 92% hits at 60 yards, 81% at 80 yards, and 54% hits at 100 yards distance. The best archers for an entire year of tournament competition still scored complete misses 46% of the time when firing at a target the size of a man at 100 yards range (Archery, p. 240). And these scores were achieved using slow, deliberate fire at a stationary target. [p. 47]
Thereafter, Barrow attempts to extrapolate these numbers into a table for all different ranges. This fundamentally fails, because Barrow is trying to force the numbers into a linear progression, when our normal-curve sense (see above) tells us this certainly won't be the case. For example, Barrow's increments veer up & down irregularly: over ranges 40-140 yards, taken at 10 yard increments, the percentage chances to hit in his table decrease in these steps: 10, 8, 6, 5, 14, 13, 6, 5, 5, 4.

Let's try to do better with our normal-curve model (bivariate, in two dimensions). Write a computer program which simulates this, starting at 10 yards, and stepping back such that distance doubles over the course of 10 steps (or equivalently: shrink size of the target by the same amount in both dimensions). Pick a starting "precision" value that gives results similar to "England's finest archers" above; and fire 100,000 shots or so at each step and see how often they strike the target. A starting precision of P = 6.8 seems to do the job (see sidebar).

First, see how the key targets noted by Barrow basically match his percentages. In the table to the right, range 60 yards correlates with 92% chance to hit; 80 yards is 76%; and 100 yards is something like 58%. (Not a perfect match, but within 5% in each case.)

Let's see what this says about standard D&D longbow increments; we'll look at the middle-point of each range category, i.e., 35/105/175 yards. At short range around 35 yards, the chance to hit is nearly 100%; 105 yards, 56%; and 175 yards, about 26%. We can immediately see that the chance to hit drops off much faster than any of the modifiers in D&D or AD&D. (More specifics below.)

On Our Results in D&D Terms

So, look back and see if we can model "England's finest archers" in D&D terms. At the short range of around 35 yards, who has a 100% chance to hit (0/1 on d20)? In 1E AD&D, that's like a 12th-level fighter against AC 10 [DMG p. 74] -- and hey, that's the same as in our proposed "Normalizing Resolutions" system (level 12 + AC 10 = success level 22 = to-hit 1 on d20; see here).

Now let's derive what the range penalties "should" be for these experts. Taking the chances to-hit above (100%/56%/26%), and taking short range as the base, then the "medium" modifier could be -9 (-44% reduction), and the "long" modifier could be -15 (-74% reduction). Or alternatively we could put this in terms of our "normalized" system (probably more legitimate, granted we've used a bivariate normal curve model for our shooting) and level modifiers therein: as noted, 100% is at level 22; 56% is like level 12, i.e., -10 steps; and 26% is like level 4, i.e., -18 steps from the start.

So to make things simple again, by rounding off to convenient numbers, we see that's it's legitimate to set ranged penalties on the order of -10 at medium range, and -20 at long range. Hitting a man-sized target at 100 or 200 yards out is really, really tough! As we saw from the Barrow article above, even "England's finest archers" should be missing in our medium range about half the time -- and that's against a totally unarmored, and motionless, target. (Any additional penalties for movement are left as an exercise for the reader; or see Len Lakofka's Leomund's Tiny Hut column in Dragon #45.) Clearly range modifiers on the order of -1, -2, or -5 are fundamentally very broken.

On Firing at Armies

Barrow is typical in including a passage like this:
Many claims are made about the greatest distance an archer can accurately fire an arrow. A modern hunting bow (for use in bagging wild game) can fire an arrow almost 300 yards; however, it has an effective range of only 60 yards. The 300-yard shots require special arrows and near-ideal weather conditions. This evidence is in sharp contrast with other sources claiming that an English longbow archer could hit a man at 400 yards. [p. 48]
Perhaps, but again this collapses the issue of firing at a man, versus firing at army (which is what would be of real interest to the English longbowman). Granted that the chance of hitting an individual man at say, 200 yards is almost negligible (20% for our top expert above). But let's consider a larger target; Barrow indicates a competition by the Royal Company at 200 yards, where any arrows within 24 feet of the target count for points.

Going to our program and increasing the target size from 2-foot radius to 24-foot radius, then the "expert" shooter cannot miss at any range (100% in every category). Even switching to "novice" capacity (Fighter level 1; i.e., starting precision P = 1.9 in our model), our shooter has 100% accuracy up to 100 yards and more, and 90% accuracy even at a distance of 210 yards. So I would conclude that the original Chainmail rule (which is to say; ignore range entirely) is a perfectly good one for the purpose of shooting at armies in mass combat -- even if anything close to that would be wildly atrocious for man-to-man combat.

Some Suggested Fixes

So in short, I would actually go so far as to recommend using this derived modifier of -10 at medium range, and -20 at long range (either as usual to the D&D to-hit numbers, or in relation to "success level" in our normalized system; it's about the same either way in the meat of the progression). Yes, this makes hitting man-to-man targets almost impossible at the longer ranges -- probably for the better, as it's (a) more realistic, (b) keeps the action within playable distance on our tabletop (say, 7" or 14" or so), and (c) leaves some room for progression by the highest-level fighters.

Of course, the preceding was all in terms of outside shots, measured in "yards", etc. What about indoors in the dungeon (where ranges are in feet, thereby closer and easier to hit in our model)? Well, you could think about giving as much as a +10 bonus to hit in that situation (to make a long story short -- literally). But, we never did take into account possible cover, low ceiling, darkness, and frantic combat movement -- so if we start adding those things up, more than likely they add up to about -10 or thereabouts, so we could probably call the whole thing a wash. (Going back to our new -10/-20 modifier.)

Probably thrown weapons -- such as spears, handaxes, and daggers -- with their much smaller range, should not be subject to these increased modifiers for great ranges. I would consider skipping any consideration of range penalties for these weapons entirely. (Or perhaps further research in axe-throwing at targets is in order...)

Open Questions
  1. Would you consider using modifiers of -10/-20 or the like for man-to-man archery?
  2. Can we use the same modifiers indoors as outdoors (assuming that melee movement counteracts reduced range)?
  3. Should handheld missiles be without penalty?
  4. Should we totally forgo ranged modifiers in mass combat rules?
  5. How important is it to give creatures like giants separate melee and ranged attack scores?
C++ source code for the bivariate normal archery simulator (ZIP archive; GPL/LGPL license) can be downloaded here.


  1. Great post, thanks. I love these series you are doing and they have inspired me as well.

    #1. I did a series of posts on firearms and when it comes down to range modifiers, I use 2 range categories. A 17th century musket has a -5 to hit past 30 yards and a maximum range of 100 yards. So I agree that hitting anything at 100 yards is really damn tough. Using your convention of -10/-20 sounds good to me and is similar to what I use (-20 might as well be no chance to hit). No problem here.

    2. Yes, I make no distinction of indoors vs outdoors either.

    3. Yes, as long as their range is significantly lower, such as roughly on the scale of 1 round of movement.

    4. Probably. If you are willing to use a computer at the game table, maybe you can work up a simple formula to determine the % of shots that hit which could be modified by a roll, rather than a straight to-hit.

    5. In the case of giants throwing stones, it would probably be best to use some kind of artillery mechanic. Such as a direct hit is more or less impossible, but stones could shatter for area damage or roll through a line/column of men.

  2. I think Hackmaster Basic does a novel take on the probability of hitting a target with a missile weapon. In the rules, the range determines what size of die you use to hit a target. Here, I will replicate some of the longbow table:

    5-60 ft: d20
    61-100 ft: d12
    101-140 ft: d8

    And so on. I think the writer even makes an arguement for the quite reduced capabilities of an archer at range along the same lines that you are using. This post has increased my appreciation for these rules.

  3. Great post. I'd be tempted to go with the Hackmaster fix, which is a bit more generous.

    Regarding thrown weapons, I wonder if there is comparable data for the javelin throw in sports (but that's distance rather than targets, I think). Maybe the axe throw in those lumberjack competitions would help? Or talk to a re-enactor?

  4. Top stuff Delta. I'll likely be chewing over the implications of this for a while.

    It seems to me that the Range Increments of the d20 system (-2 to hit per 1/10th of maximum range beyond the first) might have some applicability here. Maybe simplify to -4 per fifth?

    Open Questions

    1. Would you consider using modifiers of -10/-20 or the like for man-to-man archery?

    Very possibly, in light of what you've posted. Even just doubling the AD&D range mods to -4/-10 seems sufficient likely to convey the idea of "an impossible shot at this range!"

    2. Can we use the same modifiers indoors as outdoors (assuming that melee movement counteracts reduced range)?

    I'd just limit bows to short range only indoors.*

    * Indoors: any terrain in which you can't make a long-range arcing shot because of overhead obstructions. Dungeon corridors, dense forests, etc.

    Crossbows muddy the waters a little here. IIRC they fire in relatively flat arcs when compared to self/compound bows.

    3. Should handheld missiles be without penalty?

    Yeah, makes sense. The target is either within 'chuck it at his head' range, or he's not. If he's out of "Me lob rock/axe/spear/faeces!" range, use a sling or a bow.

    4. Should we totally forego ranged modifiers in mass combat rules?

    Yeah. It might be better to just go with "Are they in range? Y/N" and to treat volley fire vs blocks of troops as a damage roll. Possibly assume that a volley lands in the approximate, using the hit roll to determine a percentage of maximum possible damage...

    5. How important is it to give creatures like giants separate melee and ranged attack scores?

    Not so important. You might want to apply a "giant attacking man-sized" penalty though. Giant clubs and rock-throwing should be really clumsy but destructive. IIRC Chainmail treated giant-hurled rocks as siege engines, didn't it?

  5. Agreed with all the above: your weapons posts have been fantastic, and this one is the best so far.

    1. Given what you've demonstrated here, I think I may adopt the -10/-20 modifier or use the HackMaster rule from now on.

    2. Yes. As you say, the confusing swirl of combat, reduced visibility, etc. would probably make end up giving you the same modifiers anyway.

    3. Not so sure. You've still got issues with hitting a moving (and perhaps dodging) target at range, leading the target, etc. I don't know of the -10/-20 is appropriate for thrown weapons, but I think there should be some kind of modifier, yes. Not sure where to find good data on this, though.

    4. Again, given the data you've presented, I think it makes sense to drop the modifiers, yes.

    5. Treat them as artillery, as per Anthony and Chris.

  6. "Or that lumbering giants can almost unerringly strike their tiny victims at enormous range?"

    I was surprised to learn the rules played that way. I'm not a Chainmail afficionado -- my friends and I played it once and thought "why?", but generally it's been accepted practice (in every wargame I've played) that the smaller targets are harder to hit, and the bigger targets are easier.

  7. Would you consider using modifiers of -10/-20 or the like for man-to-man archery?
    Yes; although my current system basically just disallows any attacks beyond double base range anyway, and I'm now convinced that the middle increment should have a stiffer penalty.
    Can we use the same modifiers indoors as outdoors (assuming that melee movement counteracts reduced range)?
    I don't allow anything beyond short range for indoor shots anyway, based on your previous work on direct vs. indirect fire of long bows.
    Should handheld missiles be without penalty?
    I think so, although I currently only allow thrown weapons out to a single range increment.
    Should we totally forego ranged modifiers in mass combat rules?
    I think so, given the current level of detail.

  8. Great post.

    1. Would you consider using modifiers of -10/-20 or the like for man-to-man archery?

    Yes absolutely - fantastic. I have allowed elves in my campaign to have eagle vision and they receive no penalty for medium range. I may therefore allow elves to be 0/0/-10 for short/medium/long respectively. Fitting with a Tolkein world view and much modern fantasy literature.

    I wonder what you think of allowing the penalty for humans to reduce by 1 for every additional man sized creature? So a giant may be -3to -5, 20 men no penalty. Would that make positives allowed if shooting at 20 men and medium range? I suggest 0 penalty is as good as you get.

    2. Can we use the same modifiers indoors as outdoors (assuming that melee movement counteracts reduced range)?

    Yes, simpler that way.

    3. Should handheld missiles be without penalty?
    No - I suspect they have a similar fall off in accuracy at range.

    4.Should we totally forego ranged modifiers in mass combat rules?
    Perhaps as above. Penalty reduced by one for each additional man sized creature.

    5..How important is it to give creatures like giants separate melee and ranged attack scores?
    Not important - they are what they are, big and hard to kill.

  9. Fantastic post. I completely envy your math-fu!

    Would you consider using modifiers of -10/-20 or the like for man-to-man archery?

    No. Not that I disagree with your analysis (although bringing real life into D&D is always asking for trouble) but I think the problem lies with the appearance of the mechanic as it makes the medium-range shot extremely difficult, and the long-range shot nigh impossible. I see this as a problem because the other ranged weapons do not have this level of difficulty.

    I think a simpler solution would be to simply keep the standard penalties, and reduce the range of bows.

    Can we use the same modifiers indoors as outdoors (assuming that melee movement counteracts reduced range)?

    I would use the standard penalties for the reasons noted above, and reduce teh ranges for indoor, if needed.

    Should handheld missiles be without penalty?

    No. Keep the penalties, and ensure the ranges are reasonable for the penalties and the weapon being thrown.

    Should we totally forego ranged modifiers in mass combat rules?

    Given that AD&D assumes that firing into melee is done with the archer being unable to choose a target, and that the penalties are subsumed in this system, I think you can keep the penalties...or perhaps give back the standard ranges and penalties, with no ability to target an individual.

    How important is it to give creatures like giants separate melee and ranged attack scores?

    As others have mentioned, giants' missiles are like incoming artillery. I always imagine them hitting the and bouncing and rolling and smashing into shrapnels as they tear through a group of opponents.

  10. 1. -/-10/-20 seems a tad extreme to me. it may encourage some folks to never bother with missile weapons.

    2. yes, remain consistent

    3. hmmm.... hand-thrown weapons are often harder to use, if they weren't no one would have invented the bow.

    I've used javelins in fake combat and they are great inside of 30', past 30' feet they are a joke.

    I've competed in knife and tomahawk throwing competitions and my father has been doing so for most of my life and knife throwing is nowhere as easy or as effective as it's shown in popular media.

    the same penalties as bow-like missile weapon sis actually being kind to hand thrown missiles.

    4. keep them they matter.

    5. it really depends on what a giant is supposed to be in a campaign: a really big man or an huge representation of man hating elemental rage that put's mankind in it's place.
    Big humans are just big humans and shouldn't be any bettetr then men are (relatively speaking). The elemental force of people are whimps should be tough as all heck.

  11. Here's what I do:

    Missile weapon ranges are given in feet. A bow for example is a 30. You can fire within this range at no penalty. You roll to hit against creatures in the line of fire from the nearest onward, with the shot stopping at the first target struck.

    From the 30' to 60' (double range) you have -5 to hit.

    The missile skips and tumbles another full range increment without any chance of hurting anyone. This simulates a torch thrown and continuing to bounce a little.

    This is direct-fire. You are shooting straight at the target, maybe a few feet high at long range.

    Fired-ammunition missiles (bows, crossbows, slings) get another type of attack: indirect fire. You shoot in a high arc and the missile comes sort of straight down.

    You can fire indirectly from x2 range to x20 range. You can't fire indirectly closer or farther. You have the previously described -5 to hit regardless.

    When firing indirectly your shot doesn't come down exactly where you want. Roll 1d8 for direction (north is 1, count clockwise) and 1d6-2 for distance in 5' squares. This does result in a weird "asterisk of death" pattern but it's the best I can come up with. The attack roll applies to whatever is in the square that is struck. No troops on the ground in between the archer and target are struck.

    You can't fire indirectly indoors, in terrain like forest, or underwater.

  12. Could you produce a chart of ranges and accuracy as above but with a P = 1.9? I don't have a compiler to turn your code into an .exe

    Thank you!

  13. FWIW, I was just flipping through a traveler's guidebook for Bhutan and it mentions that archery is very popular and most villages have a range set up with a target at 140 meters. No mention of the target's size. They use traditional bamboo longbows and modern carbonite crossbows for the targets.

  14. Please tell me I could get a little Han Solo figurine embedded in my carbonite crossbow. I will order two!

    CAPTCHA: Predai. The death before death (marriage, etc).

  15. Comment being added very late by myself -- First, thanks for the terrific feedback, everyone, it's been enormously helpful.

    mikemonaco: "FWIW, I was just flipping through a traveler's guidebook for Bhutan and it mentions that archery is very popular and most villages have a range set up with a target at 140 meters. No mention of the target's size. They use traditional bamboo longbows and modern carbonite crossbows for the targets."

    This is an interesting case, and I'm glad you brought it up. The targets (as I understand) are actually smaller than standard English targets (like around 1/4 the area).

    But the main thing missing here is that I don't think you're expected to hit the target very much. You get 1 point for just coming with an arrow-length on the ground. And from what I read, the tournaments (teams winning 3 games of 25 "wins" each) go on for days-long holidays: "may be prolonged over 2 days or longer". I wish I had exact figures for shots taken & hit percentages, but as best I can estimate it seems about in line with the accuracy levels I came up with here.


  16. As someone who has never owned nor seen a copy of Chainmail the retrospective you begin each of these posts with are remarkably enlightening. I just wanted to say I really appreciate you taking the time to present rules throughout the ages.

    If you're still collecting data here are my answers:
    1# I'd certainly give it a try. I use 3d6 instead of d20 in Labyrinth Lord and have modified the range tables slightly such that point blank range is +1 per die, close is no modifier, mid is -1 per die and long range is -2 per die.

    I've always been in favor of design by reduction so I'd start with -10/-20 and if it remains to steep a penalty (how many people play fighters up to 12 for example) then I'd probably ease it down to -5/-10.

    2# Indoors you do not have to worry about wind and your targets have less room to maneuver so I'd either drop the penalty or sharply reduce it.

    3# This is something that I've wrestled with myself. At the moment I've essentially had it that thrown weapons have only one range and if you're trying to hit outside of that distance then I expect a spectacular roll not just result. This has come up exclusively to hand axes though so I'm not sure how I'd adjudicate for a javelin.

    4# I'm inclined to say yes provided the army of archers is competent enough to meet the required range. A hail of arrows is a hail of arrows, with enough arrows you're going to hit something.

    5# Very, but level-based attack ratings makes that difficult to do when going by the book. For giants specifically I think boulders as artillery (catapults) is a fine idea. Since you have more control throwing a rock they could perhaps have a better accuracy than the catapult but an inferior range.

  17. RedHobbit -- Appreciate the kind words and the ideas, thank you! Just to pick up on a few:

    (2) I agree, more lately I've swung to the opinion that you simply have to use different modifiers indoors vs. outdoors. Trying to mash them into the exact same mechanic is probably unsustainable.

    (5) Possibly, although I was just reading that a great advantage to the later mechanical catapult was that it was a lot more predictable than manually-powered missiles (i.e., more reliably accurate after a few ranging shots). Maybe that's game-able or not.

  18. #5 Oh really? I had always thought of catapults, mangonels, trebuchets and similar were primarily used for siege warfare. It's interesting to hear it could reliably place shots given that more often that not you had numerous debris and other projectiles sailing about.

    I suppose a counter point would be that you as a person could pretty reliably a decent sized rock a distance within view. Now if you were to imagine yourself a factor of 8 times taller, and your visual perception from such a great height extended then perhaps it's plausible.

    Still, a mechanical device will give you the same amount of torsion for each shot. Whereas with a manually powered missile it all depends on exertion which more often than not will not be always consistent. Especially when fatigue from hurling boulders sets in.

    Perhaps instead the difference between the two would be that artillery has a set minimum and maximum range that it is primed to fire that. While manually you can adjust at any point but lack the accuracy of your mechanical counterpart.

    Just a few ideas.

  19. Yes, I agree with that latter point. The mechanical trebuchet is predictably repeatable, after some setup/ranging, and is ideal for use in a siege where you want to hammer the same point on a wall a few hundred times or so. Not useful in a dynamic combat where people are moving around and such -- you'd certainly prefer a "manual", reactive missile-thrower in that case. (To my understanding.)

  20. Hmm. Given the sheer size of the difference in the penalties - 65yds to 75yds sees an alarming cliff change in difficulty - how about a simple:

    target at x" implies -x penalty?
    target at 80yds has a -8 penalty
    target at 150yds has a -15 penalty

    to me that's simple and fine grained.

  21. However the truth is that it is not clear that one roll 'to hit' corresponds in one attempt to hit with one arrow in one minute. It is feasible that there is an abstraction here given that one can fire an arrow every ten seconds pretty handily and then the AD&D penalties seem plausible again to me.

  22. ^ Hey, Kent -- While conceivable, I think that most people do play assuming 1 roll = 1 arrow shot (and mark off ammunition accordingly, etc.) A man-to-man attack round of 10 seconds is one of my "top 5" assumptions (see sidebar).

    And more recently I've come to abandon trying to share penalties for indoors & outdoors at the same time. Like if man-to-man indoor action is 1"=5 ft or so, then the Chainmail/OD&D mods of +2/+1/+0 are actually not bad (or doubled from CM scale). But outdoors at 1"=10 yards your proposed penalty might be pretty good: like I'm actually currently using -8 at 40-80 yards, -16 at 80-160 yards, -24 at 160-320 yards, which falls in line with what you're saying quite nicely (future blog on that).

  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

  24. I think the 10 sec round vastly increases the power of missile weapons by effectively slowing the movement of opponents down to a sixth of their normal speed.

    In that case your penalties go some way to redressing that imbalance but all in all the ad&d penalties as written seem good to me allowing for some sense of abstraction as I suggested before.

  25. ^ Well, of course game-mechanic-wise no one is sped up or slowed down at all. Movement is still 6/9/12 inches per round, with a base 1 shot/round.

    But in real-world terms, people are actually sped up (e.g., move 12" over a shorter amount of time). And the rates based on a 10-second round (a la Holmes, B/X, etc.) do seem more realistic. The 1-minute move rates are rather absurdly slow, and Gygax's defense of them in AD&D unpersuasive IMO.

  26. Ive thought alot about the movement rates in ad&d and decided in the end they are reasonable though I think charging should be x2 rather than x1.5.

    If you sprint outdoors in almost any terrain you are likely to break your ankle. The run speed is for guys who have been hauling ass all day and are carrying their gear/weapons so it is accurate enough. All slower movement types are fine for adventurers who value their lives.

    I hope this doesn't sound harsh but allowing those movement rates every 10 seconds is totally unrealistic - in fact it is a bit crazy - but I can see that you were forced into it by allowing missile fire every 10 seconds.

  27. ^ In my foundational analysis on time scale, movement came first, melee attacks second, and archery third. Link.

  28. You guys really need to get the Player's Option: Combat and Tactics. There are acually 5rounds in the normal 1minute round. Really, it explains a lot!

  29. Say, for instance, Delta, you consider your targets sleeping or held. It would be impossible to miss them unless there was some kind of difficulty modifier to be applied. So at medium range, I would consider them stunned to allow a total of +2 to the hit resolving in a 60 percent chance. At long range, would you be able to tell if a target is stunned? Obviously, just hitting the target would be a feat in itself hence the 25 percent chance. That might explain your statistics a little bit better.

  30. I would be interested in seeing a slightly more granular variant of the range penalties moving in -5 steps with more graduations of range.

    I have also seen a number of RPGs that apply penalties on firing into melee, specifically, even hits only have a 2/3 chance of hitting the desired melee combatant, the other 1/3 striking the other participant. That also doesn't account for misses striking others.

    1. Hey Nate -- Thanks for the ideas. You may be interested in my more recent post. In particular, I've actually shifted in my games this year to be very generous to firing into melee. Like: only if total roll (d20 + attack bonus) is less than 10 do we then make a flat d20 (no bonus) roll against a nearby target.


  31. My (ham-handed) solution was to not perform the feet to yards conversion outdoors - meaning a low bow's range was still 210 feet outdoors. I'll bet the hit rate would drop very quickly if movement was incorporated into that great table you embedded in this post. Nevertheless, my solution doesn't really mimic real life - the drop-off between midrange and long range IRL is much greater. Excellent stuff!

    1. Good point, I agree with both those things. I've thought a bit more about it recently in that regard. Thanks for the comment!